Montreal Canadiens fans surely know that Jaroslav Halak is a very capable goalie. Slovakian hockey fans will find that out in February if they did not already know.
Since winning a Gold medal in the 2003 World championships, Slovakia has struggled to get anywhere near that point again. A large part of that has been because they just havent produced any elite goaltenders compared to the elite forwards & defensemen they have brought.
Cue Jaroslav Halak. Currently in the top 10 in save percentage in the NHL, it wasnt that long ago that he was in the top 3 in the NHL in SPCT amongst goalies with at least 20 games played, Halak has become the possible answer to Slovakias goalie wasteland. With the exceptions of Jan Lasak and Peter Budaj and Rostislav Stana, a trio that has hardly been NHL legends, no other Slovak goalie has ever played in the NHL, only Budaj has played more than Halak.
Halak has a couple World Championship appearances already under his belt. He also has a Calder Cup championship (albeit as the back up, but his regular season efforts are what got the team where they got to) with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL. So he is familiar with international play and championship play.
Will he vault Slovakia into a Gold medal, like the miracle 2003 WHC Gold the country obtained? Probably not. But his solid play this season for his club team the Montreal Canadiens shows he can certainly steal games. In a single game knock out tourney, if he does it a couple times, the Slovaks could be a cinderella pick for a medal. At the least, he will probably bring some stability to a nations hockey program thats been free falling in the past few years.
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